News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Death of man shot by deputy ruled suicide
Mar 29, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff Writer
Fremont County Coroner Ed McAuslan has ruled the manner of death of the Pavillion man shot and killed by a deputy sheriff last month as suicide.
"He put the deputy in a position that he had to shoot in self-defense," McAuslan said Wednesday. "In our opinion, it was his intent to have the deputy shoot him."
"Based on the conclusions of my investigation and consultation with law enforcement, this is the conclusion that I draw," McAuslan added.
Micheal Eugene Huff, 42, was pronounced dead at 10:45 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29, at Riverton Memorial Hospital, where he was taken after the deputy sheriff shot him at a trailer house in Pavillion.
McAuslan confirmed that Huff died from a gunshot wound to the left part of his chest.
He said autopsy testing revealed Huff had cannabis and Xanax in his system as well as an alcohol concentration level of .11 percent when he died. The legal limit for driving a vehicle in Wyoming is .08 percent.
Law enforcement responded to a call at 8:35 p.m. on Feb. 29 concerning a suicide threat at a residence in the 300 block of South Pine Street in the small town. Huff had reportedly barricaded himself inside the home.
A day after the shooting, Fremont County Sheriff's Capt. Ryan Lee said the deputy was "forced to use lethal force" after an "ensuing lethal confrontation" occurred.
The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting because it involved a deputy sheriff.
Deputy on leave
"The deputy is on administrative leave, pending the conclusion of the investigation, which is being conducted by DCI," Lee said Thursday morning. "Due to the incident still being under investigation, we will not release any details, to include the name of the deputy sheriff."
According to sheriff's office dispatch records, the officer assigned to the call was Mike Hutchison.
The completed investigation report will be submitted to the Fremont County Attorney's Office for further review.
County Attorney Brian Varn declined to comment on the investigation, pending his office receiving the final report.
McAuslan said he has not investigated a fatal shooting involving a sheriff's deputy during his tenure with the coroner's office.
"I have been with the coroner's office since 1975, and this is the first such incident that I have investigated," he said.